SAN ANTONIO — Fans that are lucky enough to sit courtside during Utah Jazz games, whether it’s at home in Vivint Arena or on the road in one of the other 29 NBA venues, know that Jordan Clarkson likes to have fun and interact with the fans.
At home, Clarkson can be seen high-fiving and laughing with the Jazz crowd. On the road, Clarkson is happy to go back and forth in some friendly trash talk or even talk with fans while he’s sitting on the bench. Usually those interactions end with smiles. But one such interaction ended differently on Monday night in San Antonio, Clarkson’s hometown.
With about eight minutes left to play in the Jazz’s 110-104 win over the Spurs, Clarkson was frustrated after not getting a call after a drive to the basket and he was late getting back on defense. That misstep cost the Jazz a wide open 3-pointer by Doug McDermott.
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder called a timeout and as Clarkson was walking toward the Jazz bench, a courtside fan sitting opposite the Spurs bench went a little too far.
“The guy just keeps antagonizing me and almost challenges me like ‘What’re you going to do about it?’ After saying a bunch of stuff,” Clarkson said. “He crossed the line. I was walking away initially, then he says something again. I turned back around and he said it again and I’m just like, what’s going on?”
When Clarkson turned back around and walked toward the fan, he wasn’t doing so in an aggressive manner, but his teammates and Jazz team security didn’t want to take any chances, so they rushed over to Clarkson to bring him back to the Jazz bench rather than continue whatever was happening between him and the fan.
Before the timeout concluded, the fan was escorted off the court.
“I usually have playful dialogue with people from in the stands, especially people court side,” Clarkson said. “Literally there was a guy sitting right next to him the whole game doing stuff — doing different stuff — but I knew it was playful and me and him kept winking at each other. But this guy was just a little bit too malicious.”
Clarkson didn’t elaborate on what the fan said other than that the fan had seemingly challenged Clarkson to fight, but he did express his thoughts on fan behavior and how people need to remember that just because NBA players are entertainers, doesn’t mean that they aren’t people.
“We’re playing basketball, having a good time. Fans have got to learn that we’re human, we’re people too,” he said. “Stuff like that just can’t fly. Especially on the NBA floor where guys are doing a job. It’s like somebody coming up to somebody at McDonald’s and then keep nagging someone that’s working the fries ... there’s no room for that. We come here to entertain and play basketball, compete and put on the show. I’m not trying to deal with fans being too drunk or being whatever at the games. I’m not trying to start anything.”
In the end Clarkson knows that getting into any sort of altercation or even argument with a fan could be not only detrimental to the team and its chances, but also be financially unwise, so he was happy to have the timeout and have the situation dealt with swiftly.
“I don’t want no problems with nobody,” Clarkson said. “He ain’t gonna lose no money but (if something had happened) I’d end up losing a lot of money, be sitting out games and maybe I lose a (million) — I could put that in my daughter’s pocket and she could go buy a Bugatti or something if she wanted to. I ain’t trying to lose no money. I don’t want no problems, ain’t got no problems with nobody. I’m just out here having fun.”